Swett joined the Illinois court circuit in the 1850s, befriended Lincoln and became also a key organizer of the 1860 Chicago Republican National Convention and the 1864 presidential election.
When Leonard Swett had his first appearance on the circuit, he sought to introduce himself to Judge Davis, who at the time stayed at a small inn, along with other lawyers.
John C. Waugh in “One Man Great Enough” describes best what happened:
“Directed to Judge Davis’s room, he climbed the stairway of the hotel with some trepidation, being brought up to believe judges were men “of more or less gravity,” to be approached with “some degree of deference.”
His timid, uncertain knock was answered with a “come in,” uttered almost simultaneously. Swett entered the room and saw Davis and Lincoln in their nightshirts engaged in a pillow fight.
Davis, low and heavy-set, was leaning against the foot of the bed puffing “like a lizard.”
Lincoln who looked to Swett, compared to Davis, to be eight feet tall, was “encased in a long, indescribable garment, yellow as saffron, which reached to his heels, and from beneath which protruded two of the largest feet I had, up to that time, been in the habit of seeing.”
The only thing keeping the nightshirt from slipping off the tall angular frame was a single button at the throat.
“Certainly,” Swett later wrote, “the ungodliest figure I had ever seen.””
From All things Lincoln on Tumblr